Pearson stepping down as Sangerville town manager

No action
on suggestion
to expand board to five members

By Mike Lange
Staff Writer

    SANGERVILLE — Citing his desire to enjoy more personal time, Town Manager Dave Pearson announced his resignation at the Sept. 25 Sangerville Board of Selectmen’s meeting.

    “I will be turning 66 next month and I’m looking forward to retirement,” Pearson wrote. “Since my mid-teens, I cannot remember a summer when I wasn’t working; and I frankly find the prospect of having enough time to pursue my many interests to be very attractive.”
    Pearson, who has been town manager for three years, praised Selectmen Tom Carone, Bill Rowe and Melissa Randall as “some of the finest elected officials I have worked with over the years and the town of Sangerville should be proud of you.”
    He also said he owed Town Clerk Alvina Church a “debt of gratitude for her help when I came on board and I do not want to add anything to her burden.” So Pearson said while he plans to step down by the end of the year, he would stay on longer if necessary to help train his successor.
    He concluded that Sangerville “despite its beauty and fine folks, has some dynamics that make the manager’s job challenging on occasion. But by that same token, the work is always interesting and the accomplishments, when they occur, all the sweeter for it.”
    Prior to his arrival in Sangerville, Pearson worked for the town of Dexter for over 25 years as code enforcement officer, tax assessor and town manager. He’s also the Democratic candidate for Maine House District 104, currently held by Republican Ray Wallace of Dexter.
    The Sangerville Board of Selectmen briefly discussed a previously-tabled suggestion to expand the three-member board to five, but after some public comments and deliberation, dropped the idea for the time being.
    Virginia “Dinny” Wark said that the proposal concerned her because “we haven’t settled this year’s election yet. It’s still in litigation and we’ve been told it won’t be on the (Superior Court) docket until 2015.”
    Irving McNaughton, who lost a race for selectmen at the annual town meeting by one vote, has filed a civil lawsuit against winner Melissa Randall.
    Part of McNaughton’s claim stemmed from the status of three spoiled ballots. Town officials and the Maine Municipal Association said that they didn’t have to be counted as “ballots cast.” But McNaughton said that state law clearly states that a winner in a municipal election has to be elected by a majority — not a plurality — of votes cast.
    Wark said she “personally doesn’t have anything against a five-man board. I just feel that having it now isn’t appropriate.”
    Diane Boretos agreed. “I don’t see where the great emergency is … particularly where we now have to look for a new town manager,” Boretos said. “It seems more appropriate to bring this up before a larger crowd at the annual town meeting.”
    Later in the meeting, the board decided to shelve the plan although Chairman Bill Rowe did say that anyone who wanted to circulate a petition to force a special town meeting on the proposal was free to do so.
    The town did receive some good news: funding to remediate the former Abbie Fowler Elementary School site may be arriving soon. Pearson said that he recently met with Janet Sawyer from the Piscataquis County Economic Development Council and representatives from the DEP and Civil Engineering Services “to see what we had to do to wrap this thing up.”
    The school was closed 12 years ago and residents voted to demolish the structure. But action has been held up due to the discovery of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCB) in the windows and caulking and questions over the cost of removing the building.
    Now, the county has received $300,000 in brownfield grants which are targeted toward structures with contaminants and Pearson said he has been assured that the school building is at the top of priority list.
    One missing piece is a “community relations plan” that requires a public hearing and more paperwork to be filed by the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
    The Board of Selectmen also chose a nine-member Selection Committee to screen applications for the town manager’s position: Joseph Ranagan, Virginia Wark, Alvina Church, Diana Bowley, Peter Gorman, Diane Boretos, Pam Smith, George Nuite and Rhonda Taylor.

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